When executive editor Thomas Matthews served a Godello at the New World Wine Experience during his annual food-and-wine-pairing face-off with four celebrity chefs, I hoped that the little-known Spanish white wouldn't soon be forgotten by the audience. After all, though powerful, it was up against the ebullient Spanish chef José Andrés and his surprising choice of a Virginia wine, an excellent example of what the state can do with Bordeaux-style reds.
Godello has been one of my go-to whites in the past couple of years, specifically Bodegas Godeval’s Viña Godeval Cosecha bottling from the Valdeorras appellation in Galicia—a wine I've showcased at a wine tasting with friends, brought to family holidays and sipped at backyard summer gatherings. Firm and stony, with a powerful mineral character, it's refreshing on its own but even better with food, versatile with shellfish, salads and other dishes. Plus, it's under $20. Over the past two years, we worked our way through a half-case of the 2007 vintage, before slipping this summer into the 2010 bottling that made our Top 100 of 2011 list.
Recently, I opened the 100-percent Godello while renting a vacation home with my family in Vermont, enjoying a meal of pasta with white beans, tomatoes, spinach and pine nuts, out on the deck overlooking Lake Champlain. Though a different vintage than the one I had gotten to know so well, the 2010 had the same familiar firm structure, bracing acidity and minerality, with saline and citrus flavors, plus savory herbs and cut yellow apple. 90 points, non-blind.
If you read the back of the bottle, it tells you the winery was founded in 1987 on the ruins of a 12th-century monastery (depicted on the front label), now resurrected just as the nearly forgotten ancient grape variety was, and that the grapes were grown on slate soils. But there's a lot more to the story of Godello, a native grape rare outside of Valdeorras that nearly went extinct when small farmers abandoned their land for the cities during tough times. Government employees working in the area, Horacio Fernandez and José Luis Bartolome, decided to try to save the local vineyards by developing quality wines distinct from those grown elsewhere in Spain. Their plantings of an experimental 40 acres of Godello eventually led to Bodegas Godeval, now owned by the two with four other partners. (You can read more about it in Spain's New Wave of Whites.) With the quality now seen from Godeval, Avanthia and wineries in Bierzo, maybe Godello is here to stay.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting note for Bodegas Godeval Valdeorras Viña Godeval 2010 (90 points, $18, Top 100 of 2011; Rank 71)